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German Invitation to Nigeria’s President-Elect Sparks Controversy

Germany has reportedly invited Nigeria’s President- Elect Umaru Yar’Adua to attend next month’s Group of Eight (G8) industrialized summit. The invitation has attracted wide condemnation from Nigeria’s main opposition parties, claiming it would legitimize what they say were illegitimate April elections. But a German government spokesman said his country is only following a tradition of inviting Nigeria, among other African countries, to the high profile meeting.

Shehu Garba is the spokesman for Nigeria’s Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, who was the presidential candidate for the opposition Action Congress party. From the capital, Abuja he tells the Voice of America that Nigerians now know who their true friends are.

“The people of this country do not matter to the interest of the industrialized countries of the world. From time pre-colonial to the colonial and the postcolonial period, their pre-occupation has always been about raw materials, and in the case of Nigeria, oil. It is the confirmation of the fact that crude oil to the West is more important than the 160 million people of this country, and that they would do nothing to compromise their interest, the smooth flow of crude oil to their own countries,” Garba noted.

He said the invitation would possibly hurt the president-elect since he faces what Garba described as the biggest legal challenge in Nigeria’s history.

“We think that at the same time they are not fair to the PDP (People’s Democratic Party) candidate Umaru Yar’Adua because this man ought to be getting ready to face the greatest legal challenge in his life. This is going to be the biggest legal challenge to any election ever in the history of this country. He needs to be in the country to concentrate and to face these challenges. He himself does not need his attention to be divided by such invitations that would take him out of the country,” he said.

Garba said Nigerians are the only people who can determine who is their legitimate president.

“Legitimacy can only proceed from the Nigerian people. It is not foreign countries that will confer leadership on the Nigerian people. We are the ones who will choose who would lead us and we will live with the consequences with our own choice. In this case the Nigerian people are saying, they have not even made the choice, they have not been allowed to choose who will lead them, and they are going to the courts to say that they be allowed to exercise their franchise,” Garba pointed out.

He said Nigerians increasingly are feeling their own interests are being ignored by the outside world.

“It helps the Nigerian people to know who their real friends are, and yes there is a sense of betrayal, especially when you look at countries that Nigeria in the past had helped to come out of their own unfortunate situations, and then they are the ones who are turning around to support the imposition of this illegality on the Nigerian people,” he said.

Garba blamed some European countries for not looking out for the well being of Nigerians.

“For such countries like Britain and some of its co-travelers in Europe, there had never been any pretension about the fact that their own love for Nigeria (exists) in so far as we have the raw materials that they need for their industries. This has been their sense of relationship, pre-colonial, colonial period and postcolonial. And nothing has happened to change the character of that relationship between themselves and us here,” he noted.